I love “basic” cookbooks for beginning cooks, because I think they offer the most bang for your buck. You can get a lot of different types of recipes in one book, usually with common ingredients and fairly simple instructions. When Barnes & Noble had a sale on Nook books recently, I picked up Aida Mollenkamp’s The Keys to the Kitchen. This was my first time using a cookbook on my ereader. While ultimately I like using real cookbooks better, it was a deal I couldn’t pass up, and it turned out to be a fantastic cookbook.
The Keys to the Kitchen covers a lot of ground. There are basic instructions on how to do everything from blooming spices to shucking oysters. There are a ton of recipes. And there’s an entire section on “riffs,” teaching you how to balance flavors, use unfamiliar ingredients, stock and cook from a pantry, and even how to make homemade cleaners. It’s an absolutely huge resource, with clear writing and gorgeous photographs.
I used the basic instructions to learn how to cut up a whole chicken. This is something that’s always intimidated me, but the pictures were a great guide, and the instructions were simple and easy to follow. When it came to the recipes, I tried the Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers and Roasted Smoked Bratwurst with Chutney Style Apples, and am eager to try the Tomato-Orange Soup, the Rosemary-Lemon Fried Chicken, and many, many more.
The thing about ebooks is, you can’t get them dirty. Also, I really missed having spreads. Having to turn the page after every page instead of every two made the cookbook a little awkward to use. So I’d love to see what Keys to the Kitchen looks like in hard copy.
But regardless of format difficulties, the recipes here were spot-on and delicious. The advice was great for those new to the kitchen, and those more familiar with it. I’d venture to guess that almost anyone would come away with some new knowledge from this book.